Utility and review board approves Goldboro LNG plant
Provincial regulator green lights Pieridae Energy's proposed $5-billion project in Guysborough County
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has given the regulatory green light for Pieridae Energy to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Guysborough County.
The cost of the proposed Goldboro LNG plant has been estimated at $5 billion and the UARB decision emphasizes the company's commitment to buying and hiring locally.
Vernon Pitts, the warden of Guysborough County, said Monday the decision could be a game-changer locally and further afield.
"I would expect it's going to be monumental," he said.
"We've never seen a project like this in Guysborough County, nor in the province of Nova Scotia. This is potentially the largest private investment in the history of the province."
Pieridae officials were not immediately available for comment.
On its website, the company welcomed the UARB approval and said it has hired an engineering consultant in anticipation of starting construction.
Project awaiting investment decision
That's expected to begin shortly after the company and investors make a final decision on whether to proceed.
There's no indication when that decision might be made. Pitts said he hopes the final decision will be announced by the end of the year, while others have said it could be made in the company's first quarter next year.
Pieridae has already received environmental approval for the project from the province, and chafed at delays in the UARB process this summer after concerns were raised about aboriginal consultation.
The company has proposed building a liquefaction plant for natural gas from the nearby Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline. Product would then be delivered to customers by ship.
Pitts said the municipality and the province are in talks over the possible infrastructure needs — especially for a road to access the site — if the LNG plant goes ahead.
Construction would likely dramatically increase the municipality's population, said Pitts.
"They're looking at approximately 4,000 people on the ground there during construction for four years," he said. "Our municipality only has approximately 4,500 people in the entire municipality, so our population has the potential to double here within the next couple of months."
The plant would also likely significantly increase the municipality's tax base, Pitts said.
UARB cites public support
The UARB decision said it received nearly 200 public comments in support of the project and only seven that expressed concerns over possible impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, other environmental aspects, noise, local traffic and shipping.
However, the board said, many of those issues are not part of the UARB mandate and it said they would be addressed during the design and construction phase, which will be monitored by an independent firm.
While critics say LNG plants create a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, Pitts said Guysborough County is used to dealing with environmental concerns over fossil fuel.
"I don't foresee a major problem there," said Pitts. "It's checks and balances. You generate a bit of greenhouse gas on this side of the spectrum, yet on the other side you're taking steps to cut back on them.
"The municipality is a prime example of it. We have the Sable wind project situated just outside the community of Canso. We took oil and gas revenues from the Sable offshore project and in turn we invested that in wind energy.
"So that's taking — some say for lack of a better term, 'dirty money' — but we laundered it and now we have green energy and that's a plus."